Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Business As Usual

From the Grain website


What do you think of when you hear the phrase "Green Economy"? Maybe you get warm and fuzzy, thinking about small artisans and market gardeners pursuing making a local and sustainable living? Or maybe you think a bit bigger, about factories turning out solar panels and low-energy light bulbs. If you're the folks at Grain, you think a bit differently, and write an "article [which] examines the real intentions behind the proposals for a "Green Economy". It is the introductory chapter to a Compendium on the Green Economy that was prepared as a common position for RIO+20 and that was published collectively in Spanish by GRAIN, Alianza Biodiversidad, World Rainforest Movement (WRM), and Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean (ATALC)." When you're at Grain, you thnk about how the "Green Economy" is maybe just another excuse for business as usual.
Grain's new publication is called Behind the 'Green Economy': Profiting from environmental and climate crisis, and the introduction is available online. It discusses the economy of scarcity, and, with a world economy based on scarcity, the lengths trans-national corporations will go to in order to ensure scarcity in order to maintain their business model:
Destruction, of course, has its limits. Somewhere, at a certain level, of which we are unaware, there is a limit where the climate’s dysfunction or the destruction of all the ecosystems will stop being a source of profit and will become a problem that cannot be ignored, even for the owners of big business. That is why they found it necessary to consider secondary strategies.
One such plan, projected as possibly the most important in the future is that of seizing, controlling and physically monopolising reserves where nature can supposedly continue to function adequately or appropriating spaces that contain the resources essential for mitigating the effects of the crisis. This is the second role that privatisation plays. Herein lies the logic behind land grabbing, for instance. As agriculture becomes more difficult, it will be increasingly advantageous, from a business point of view, to possess or control cultivable land for the short or long term. We find similar reasoning and logic behind new concessions for fishing in cold waters, or the frenzy of privatisation of national parks and natural reserves, or the buying up of huge expanses of natural vegetation, either in tropical forest zones, or in the extreme south of South America.
Under the logic of expanding business possibilities, the physical control of large areas of land plays another important role: to stop populations, and in particular rural populations, from evading mechanisms of dependency. Eighty-five per cent of peasant and indigenous families all over the world have access to less than two hectares of land.15 With all the legal, technical, and political hurdles that peasant and indigenous agriculture is faced with, relations with the market develop in irregular ways, with resistance coming and going according to the different circumstances. Big businesses and financial entities seem to have learnt the lesson that as long as they have control over their own resources, the people of the countryside will always be able to resist them with their capacity for autonomy. The response, again: total dispossession.
Whether it’s under the guise of protection against environmental devastation, or under the guise of disarming mechanisms of evasion and resistance, or if it is simply about making profits, the seizure and control of large areas of land has become a useful strategy for businesses. This process works in conjunction with the forced removal of families, communities and people from their homes, lands and territories. This is what we have observed more and more frequently. Whether forced removals or dispossession are undertaken “calmly” or whether they are done by means of open warfare depends in large part on the character of the governments that cooperate with the investors to repress people.

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